- Occupation: Catholic Nun
- Born: August 26, 1910 in Uskub, Ottoman Empire
- Died: September 5, 1997 in Calcutta, India
- Best known for: Fighting for the rights of the sick and helpless
Mother Teresa was a humanitarian. This means she did things to help out other people. Her entire life was fully devoted to helping the poor, the sick, the needy, and the helpless.
Where did Mother Teresa grow up?
Mother Teresa was born in Uskub, Ottoman Empire on August 26, 1910. This city is now called Skopje and is the capital of the Republic of Macedonia. Her birth name was Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu. Her father died when she was eight and she was raised by her mother. She was raised as a Roman Catholic and decided to devote her life to God at a young age. She joined the Sisters of Loreto at the age of 18 to become a missionary to India. She first had to learn English. So she went to Ireland to learn English at the Loreto Abby.
A year later she started her missionary work in Darjeeling, India. She learned the local language, Bengali, and taught at the local school. She soon took her first vows as a nun and took the name Teresa. She would teach for many years in India becoming the headmistress at a school in eastern Calcutta.
What did Mother Teresa do?
When she was 36 years old she felt the call from God to help the poor of India. She received some basic medical training and then set out to help the sick and needy. This wasn't an easy task in 1948 India. She had very little support and, while trying to feed and help the poorest of the poor, she herself was constantly hungry and even had to beg for food.
Soon other women joined her and she formed the Missionaries of Charity. Mother Teresa described the purpose of the Missionaries of Charity as an organization to take care of "the hungry, the naked, the homeless, the crippled, the blind, the lepers, all those people who feel unwanted, unloved, uncared for throughout society, people that have become a burden to the society and are shunned by everyone". Wow! She had some lofty goals and considering where she was at the start (see above paragraph where she was starving), she accomplished some amazing things. The Missionaries of Charity originally had 13 members. Today they have over 4,000 nuns who care for people just like Mother Teresa described all over the world.
It wasn't an easy task to build such an organization and to keep the focus on the poorest people. She worked almost up until her death on September 5, 1997.
Fun facts about Mother Teresa
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- Mother Teresa has been beatified by the Catholic Church. This is a step on the way to becoming a Saint. She is now called Blessed Teresa of Calcutta.
- Albania's international airport is named after her, the Aeroporti Nene Tereza.
- She was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979.
- She once traveled through a war zone to rescue 37 children from the front lines.
- She received numerous awards for all her charity work including the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Ronald Reagan.